Discussion

Should Britain hold a referendum on whether to remain a member of the EU?

Britain’s former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has today declared that the UK needs to renegotiate its relationship with the European Union as we are at a time when the UK has “maximum leverage”. Fox would prefer Britain to be part of a much looser relationship based around free trade with Europe. He argues that "I would like to see Britain negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on economic rather than political considerations and set out in clear and unambiguous language. If we succeed a referendum should be held and formal acceptance advocated. If, on the other hand, this approach is rejected outright or falls short of necessary "red lines", then we would have no alternative but to recommend rejection and consider departure from the EU". He argues that Britain would not pay any price for such a move because the EU would want to keep trading with the UK "On trade we are told that we are inextricably bound to the EU because of our export relationships. Yet the European Union countries export more to Britain than we export to them and, since the time that we joined, WTO rules have increasingly meant that the free trade arrangements that we have with our European partners are guaranteed by international law and not simply by virtue of our EU membership." He would therefore be willing to consider a complete departure from the EU.

Prime Minister David Cameron has also be floating the possibility of a referendum sometime in the future but has made it clear he does not think there should be a referendum while the EU and in particular the Eurozone is in such turmoil because no one knows that the final outcome of the changes will be. However even this would potentially be too much for David Cameron’s coalition partners the Liberal Democrats.

Should Britain hold a referendum on remaining in the EU?

http://idebate.org/debatabase/debates/international-affairs/house-would-hold-referendum-uk-membership-eu

http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/home/2012/07/liam-fox-britain-euro-european-union-speech.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/9367479/David-Cameron-We-need-to-be-clear-about-the-best-way-of-getting-what-is-best-for-Britain.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jul/02/liam-fox-life-outside-european-union?intcmp=239

Frankly I think it is pretty difficult for a democracy to deny its citizens a democratic choice. I personally am very pro EU and am very worried that the UK would vote against reamaining in the EU (if anyone is interested it might be a big enough change to persuade me to support Scottish independence in the hope of getting back in!) yet no one can deny the EU has changed immensely since Britain had a referendum on membership back in 1975. Yes it can be argued that all these changes have been ratified by our elected representatives but if we are honest when it comes to electing those representatives votors dont consider candidates Europe policy is not very high up the list of priorities. This is shown by UKIP having won 16.5% of the vote in 2009 beating Labour to second place when compared to the 0 MPs they have in the House of Commons. If the British electorate did vot on the basis of Europe policy then there is a good chance we would be out already!

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